By Judie Brown
A CNN headline proclaimed: “For the First Time in Its History, the Gerber Spokesbaby Is a Child with Down Syndrome.” When Gerber chose Lucas Warren as its spokesbaby for 2018, two things occurred. First, the world got to see an adorable baby with contagious cuteness. He was chosen because of his winning smile and indeed it is! Second, and even more important, Gerber sent the message that every baby should be celebrated no matter what his challenges might be.
Quoting Lucas’ mother Cortney Warren, CBS news reports:
"This is such a proud moment for us as parents knowing that Lucas has a platform to spread joy, not only to those he interacts with every day, but to people all over the country.” . . .
"We hope this opportunity sheds light on the special needs community and educates people that with acceptance and support, individuals with special needs have the potential to change the world—just like our Lucas!"
We could not agree with Mrs. Warren more!
Last year, the United Nations turned the world’s attention to Down syndrome and included presentations by people like Kurt Kondrich and his 14-year-old daughter Chloe. Chloe has Down syndrome and has become an ambassador for special needs children.
Children like Lucas and Chloe remind us that those with Down syndrome reflect the beauty of God’s love. When St. John Paul II wrote in the Gospel of Life that “the life which God gives man is quite different from the life of all other living creatures, inasmuch as man, although formed from the dust of the earth is a manifestation of God in the world, a sign of his presence, a trace of his glory,” he was saying precisely what I see in Lucas, in Chloe, and in every human being born and preborn.
This is why we spend so much time defending the defenseless, focusing attention on their special roles in our communities, and reminding our fellow citizens that every innocent person is an asset to our society. Not one of them should be condemned to death.
God expects us to cherish and value all of His children. So, when World Down Syndrome Day occurs on March 21, let’s take some time to do something special as we celebrate these special people. American Life League’s Culture of Life Studies Program has outlined five things each of us can do to celebrate:
- Read stories to your children about Down syndrome, including these picture books we recommend.
- Watch a movie with your family, such as Where Hope Grows.
- Learn about Down syndrome by viewing this video or read about Professor Jerome Lejeune, who discovered the gene that causes Down syndrome and worked his entire life to find a cure for it.
- Become inspired by the wonderful stories that teach what these amazing people have accomplished.
- Share inspirational videos that help others see that anything is possible with hope, love, and courage.
In closing, we are compelled to pay tribute to my dear friend Professor Jerome Lejeune, who, if still alive, would be the happiest man on earth to meet or even just see a picture of Lucas Warren.
In the article about Lejeune’s passing, we read these inspiring words of truth: “As our culture demanded more and more ‘perfect’ people, Lejeune honored the life of those born with disabilities and differences. He revealed the intrinsic value of children born with Down syndrome to their parents and families. He helped remove any shame the parents of these babies felt when their children were born, with all sorts of explanations offered including the fault of the parents, and reminded them of the gift of life from God.”
Let us go and do likewise!